Multinational cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has reported that crypto mining attacks have declined since 2018, although other methods of fraud have increased.
More often than not, victims will have no idea that their computer is being used to mine cryptocurrency, although they may notice a decrease in performance and a spike in power consumption as the system becomes overclocked.
Kaspersky noted that during the reporting period from November 2018 to October 2019, over 2.2 million of its users were attacked by malicious crypto mining software.
However, a graph of affected users showed a gradual decrease from 2018 to 2019, with just over 150,000 victims in October 2019 compared to some 450,000 in November 2018.
One single piece of mining software, ‘Trojan.Win32.Miner.bbb’, was responsible for 13.45% of all attacks. However, the report didn’t detail which cryptocurrencies were most popular for criminals to mine.
Many of the attack hot spots were centered in East African nations including Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Sudan, as well as Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.
It’s likely that the decrease in crypto mining malware coincides with the falling prices of many of the major cryptocurrencies throughout 2019, including Bitcoin, which has made the process less profitable.
Other forms of attack become more popular
In stark contrast to the gradual decline of crypto mining attacks, there has been a dramatic increase in crypto-ransomware in the latter-half of 2019.
Despite the name, crypto-ransomware doesn’t target cryptocurrency users. Instead, it infects victims’ computers through executable programs and encrypts their personal files.
The attackers then hold these files ransom, demanding payment to decrypt the hijacked files. Many victims pay up to avoid losing their files for good.
Kaspersky discovered 22 new families of crypto-ransomware and over 46,156 modifications of existing encryptors in 2019.
In October 2019, there were over 7,000 modifications of known encryptors, signalling a spike in ransomware attacks.
The majority of these attackers demand payment in Bitcoin or privacy coins such as Monero as it’s harder for law enforcement agencies to trace the transactions.
Some have argued that it’s easier to pay these fraudsters rather than lose files, especially for small businesses. However, law enforcement agencies have urged people not to give in to the attacks.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself from crypto malware and ransomware, read our safety guide.